Brashinger: Ex-NFL player to hold youth football camp
By Ginger Brashinger Citizen Jouralistfirstname.lastname@example.org February 21, 2013 1:30PM
Former NFL players Anthony Simmons, Frank Middleton, Stephen Pierce and Desmond Clark pose with Trever Payton, 7, at the Stephen Pierce Foundation Football Camp held at Lincoln-Way West High School, New Lenox. | Supplied photo
Updated: March 25, 2013 6:13AM
Former NFL player Stephen Pierce is reaching out from San Diego to people in the Lincoln-Way area.
Pierce is looking for local volunteers to help him conduct his second Pro Players and The Stephen Pierce Foundation Football Camp on June 28 at Lincoln-Way West High School in New Lenox Township.
The co-ed camp is free to youths ages 7 to 17 who will have the opportunity to take advantage of Pierce’s expertise as well as that of former and current NFL players Anthony Simmons, Frank Middleton, Desmond Clark, Bill Goldberg and others.
Pierce’s goal is to teach young people at all skill levels the proper playing techniques to maximize their skills and minimize injuries.
“We’re going to teach them at an early age to do the right things,” he said.
Pierce’s football career was cut short after only two years in the NFL by health issues, tendinitis in the knees.
A lifelong resident of San Diego, Pierce played football there at Abraham Lincoln High School, a school Pierce said has sent more players to the NFL than any other high school in the United States. He earned a football scholarship to the University of Illinois.
He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns and played for the team in 1987, but his knee problems prevented him from further play.
For the last 25 years, Pierce has been “helping others (with) their football camps” and working with young people in both athletic and academic pursuits.
“I just love kids,” he said.
One of his major concerns for players of all ages is concussions, an injury he suffered and has seen cause devastating later effects on NFL players. Pierce said concussions cannot be eliminated from a sport as violent as pro football, but he believes that the proper techniques taught at the camp will make a difference.
“We can teach them how to use their shoulders and arms to take the hit instead of their heads,” Pierce said. “That’s what it’s all about. We teach them to protect themselves. That’s what a coach is supposed to do, take them to the next level.”
Last year’s camp hosted about 200 players, and Pierce hopes for a similar turnout this year.
He said adult volunteers, especially coaches, are needed to help conduct the one-day camp.
“This program impressed me so much that I volunteer my time to make sure more kids have the opportunity of a lifetime,” Jill Dyrkacz, a New Lenox resident, said. “Stephen and the other NFL players make that day a dream come true for so many kids.”
“Any camp I’m involved in is going to be free,” Pierce said. “That’s why I’m reaching out to the community for sponsors and volunteers. It’s for the kids.”
To register, volunteer or help sponsor the camp, visit www.proplayersinc.com